It’s that time of year, again. The weather gets a little colder, the days shorten and the thoughts all around you turn to…the Internet!
Yes, what once meant meal preparation and tree felling now includes getting your website ready for the holiday rush.
What does this mean to you? Traffic. Whether or not your business actually engages in E-Commerce, you should expect to see a bump in holiday Internet traffic.
If your website, app or service is already quite popular, this could mean bad news for your web server environment. If you were close to your bandwidth limit, or your hardware was just barely chugging along as is, you may need to think about scalability. There are typically two types of scaling, vertical and horizontal. We will talk more in depth about the two types of scaling in parts 2 and 3.
The following are some important questions to ask to make sure your website or app are prepared for the holiday rush:
Have you performed a website load test recently?
Performing a website load test will help answer questions about loads your current web hosting environment can handle. For example you should be able to determine how much additional load your application can take on before it begins to fall over. And when it does, what components of the application (e.g. database, webserver, etc) fall first?
Do you have an estimate on how much load you may receive?
This is a tough question to answer, and while you may only end up with a ball park guess it’s still helpful to have an idea. You might be able to get this data from previous high load events, website analytics or your friendly marketing department’s projections.
Do you have the necessary hardware in place to scale?
Routinely auditing your environment and its hardware is a good practice, and when you expect an influx of traffic making sure you know what you have and what can scale is vital. These are the types of questions I’d be looking to get answered so I’d know exactly what I would have to work with:
- Do you have a load balancer or firewall?
- How much traffic are these appliances capable of handling?
- If you have physical servers, what are they running? For example, if your web server has 8 RAM slots how many of those are used?
- Can you add more RAM if you need to?
Is your application capable of scaling horizontally?
Scaling horizontally might not be possible out of the box for every application and can be much more complicated than vertical scaling. You are mistaken if you think you can just horizontally scale every application with little or no upfront work. We will talk more about this in parts 2 and 3 of this series.
Is your provider capable of scaling vertically?
If you have any physical servers and you plan to handle scaling with extra hardware, you need to look at how quickly your provider can get you that hardware. Adding components like CPU or RAM can take providers weeks, especially when hardware is not in stock. If you are running virtual servers some providers lock you into the hardware your VM was built with. If you are lucky enough to be with a provider that allows you to adjust your hardware at your leisure, you may want to verify your OS is capable of hot adding components like RAM and CPU.
Do you have the bandwidth?
This is an easy thing to forget. Be sure to consult your hosting provider to make sure your infrastructure is set up with enough to handle a large influx of traffic.
What do you think?
We would like to know what you thought about our question list. Is there anything you would add to it? Was your website prepared this year?
We would love to hear from you!